An astounding admission by a New York City Councilman, commenting on the arrest of a visiting Tennessee medical student who had a pistol in her purse at the Sept. 11 memorial, that the city’s gun laws are too strict could become political – and maybe even legal – fodder for proponents of national concealed carry reciprocity.
Evergreen State residents should keep this in perspective: anti-gun Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn hails from the Empire State, growing up on Long Island. He is a member of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and he is currently pushing for State Supreme Court review of the twice-rejected city parks gun ban. More about that in a moment.
The case has gun rights activists stirred up all over the map, including right here in the Pacific Northwest. There is considerable sympathy in the gun rights community for the defendant in the New York case.
Graves, who has a full legal carry permit in Tennessee, was locked up on a weapons-possession charge and held on $2,000 bond that she posted yesterday. She is due in court on March 19.
She’ll soon find out exactly how serious New York City is about illegal guns. The Manhattan DA’s Office is pursuing a conviction on felony gun possession — carrying a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years.—New York Post
New York Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. (D-Queens) was quoted by the New York Post in a story covering the arrest of Tennessee resident Meredith Graves. The 39-year-old woman was with her husband on the way to a job interview in New York when the couple stopped to pay their respects at the downtown memorial. She was carrying a .32-caliber Kel Tec pistol in her purse and when she spotted a sign that said firearms were prohibited, she asked if there was a storage spot for the gun.
Graves was arrested and now faces a felony charge that carries a 3½-year jail sentence if convicted. She would also lose her gun rights forever. Noting that, Vallone told the newspaper:
“Clearly, the laws are too strict here, but that’s something we need to work out for ourselves without honoring licenses to carry guns in states where felons can carry them.”—Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.
What is equally clear is that Graves, who presumably is a reasonably intelligent woman, should have known it was illegal for her to carry a concealed pistol anywhere in the State of New York on her permit. The strictness of New York gun laws is universally understood in the gun rights community.
Vallone’s concern over enforcement of the city’s gun law is not indicative of a pro-gun philosophy, but for the perpetuation of the law against possible public backlash over the draconian enforcement of the law.
“By prosecuting this woman and seeking 3 1/2 years of jail, we are shooting our own [gun-control] efforts in the foot and giving the rest of the country ammunition.”—Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.
Vallone is not alone in his observations about the city’s gun law. A professor of criminal justice in the city also opened up to the newspaper in a story published Friday morning.
“We have pretty severe laws. Sometimes, cases like this make us question if the laws are up to date and if it was really what the legislators had in mind.”—Professor Maki Haberfeld, chair of John Jay College’s Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Department.
What does all of this have to do with the Pacific Northwest? As noted earlier, Seattle is pushing its case to ban guns at city park facilities and grounds to the state Supreme Court. This morning was the filing deadline for plaintiffs in that case—the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, along with the National Rifle Association, Washington Arms Collectors and five individual citizens—to respond to the city’s request for review.
This column has obtained a copy of that response, and will discuss it separately. It demolishes the city’s arguments.
McGinn, and his predecessor Greg Nickels, and the Seattle City Council would like to see Washington’s preemption statute repealed or amended to exempt Seattle, allowing it to establish its own gun laws. If the city is successful in getting a state high court hearing, and is successful with its arguments, the preemption statute would be essentially nullified, and they know it.
The city lost originally in early 2010 in King County Superior Court, and again by a unanimous ruling before the State Court of Appeals in October.
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